Studying abroad is such an exciting adventure for any students wanting to break the cycle of their normal routines. Coming from the States, I mainly wanted to explore different cultures and witness the amazing sights and views that I have heard about since I was a little girl. I always dreamt of living life like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. And while this experience has been a tremendous part of my life thus far, I have learned quite a few things since I’ve been here, some personal and some that can be experienced on a broader scale.
1. I don’t miss home, but I miss the food the most
I am very family oriented. I always imagine myself living near my family when I grow older, so I expected to be severely homesick by the time March rolled around. Every now and then, I do miss home, but not to the point where I am sobbing into my pillow at night. I wish my family were here to experience these experiences with me, but what I miss the most? Food. Don’t get me wrong, the food here is incredible, but sometimes I miss having the ample variety of food options that are provided in America. This varies from city to city that I visit abroad, but the options are very limited in small Segovia, but damn. I miss hot cheetos and whataburger way more than I should at this point. And most importantly, I miss Mexican food. I find myself watching videos of some random elotero or taqueria throughout the day just so I can imagine having it.
2. America’s language education system is so bad
Almost everywhere I go, most people know basic English words to communicate with tourists, but within my university, everyone I know (not from America) has 3-4 languages under their belt. Why are we not like that? Yes, I understand most of these people have been studying languages since they were 4 years old, but that is exactly my point. Why is America ONLY requiring two years of language learning during HIGH SCHOOL. At that age, it is nearly impossible to learn a new language fluently. I honestly feel like shit going into a new country and expecting them to know English, when they should be expecting me to know their language, or at least the basics from that language to communicate. America is in its own little bubble when it comes to language learning, and news, but that is a whole other topic that I can get into.
3. It is still school (unfortunately)
Just because you are studying abroad does not mean that you do not have to do work. Trust me, there are still a lot, and I mean A LOT, of assignments, projects, and programs you will need to complete. I imagine once midterms are over, I will have plenty of tiem to travel, also I have one month to travel before going back to America in May. And trying to fit in travelling every weekend into that crazy school schedule?? Close to impossible, but I’ve seen it happen. Which leads me to my next point.
4. It is okay to not travel every weekend
Some people also on exchange are in a different country every weekend, and although that seems like an optimal experience to be able to cherish and take in all that you can, there are some setbacks
- lots of money goes down the drain when classes are rescheduled to a day that you have planned on travelling, leading to you having to miss your flight and book another (money wasted) OR pay money to transfer your ticket time (also money wasted) (and this happens quite often, AND attendance is hella strict here, so you cannot afford to miss many classes)
- you do not get to appreciate the city you are living in for six months
- emotional and physical exhaustion
- you miss out on the great friendships you can make with others also on exhange
Now believe me, I am not saying to not travel. I am simply saying to know yourself and your limitations. My bank account, AND my mental state, would be all sorts of wack right about now if I were travelling every weekend.
5. Make friends from different countries
Before leaving to Spain I was told my others who came before me that I will meet people from my university back in the states who will become like a second family to me. Wrong. In fact, I never really grew close to anyone from my home university. I am not sure why that happened, but a simple explanation may be just because they all live with another UT student, and I am living with three IE students. At first, I was a little sad because I knew that I would never be a part of those “reunion dinners” that all my previous friends are a part of when they return from studying abroad, but after a while I much preferred it that way. I began to form a close connection with people from drastically different countries and learn about their cultures, languages, and experiences. I know that if I were to visit Singapore or Korea or England or Sweden or even NY and Cali that I would have a place to stay, or at least a face to eat a meal with. And these friendships are the ones I cherish. Sure, it is nice to talk to those from my uni every now and then because they understand what Kerbey Queso is, or they know what Whataburger is, or ACL, or are as obsessed with Matthew McConaughey as I am, or understand the rivals between different cities in Texas, but apart from that I love learning about others more.
6. (okay I lied, there’s a number 6) I miss my family and friends
There have been multiple days where I just want to lay in bed and talk to my friends and family from back home, but there is such a big time difference that I never seem to be able to mesh with them (not to mention the fact that my phone only works with wifi and most places in Segovia don’t have wifi. curse you small city). I look at pictures and videos on social media of them and I get a sense of wishing they were here with me. The experience would be a whole lot more fun if they were all here with me. Especially because so many things are happening back at home. I feel guilty often because I am missing out on so much and I just want to be with my family. *wow sorry, this one is kinda mushy* It is too difficult sometimes, but whenever I get notification that they got a postcard, my heart becomes warm.
Those are just a few things that I have learned while being away from home from so long (it’s only been a little over two months Cindy, calm down). Tomorrow I am headed to London! I am going to try to be more active on here by posting once a day. Some posts ~may~ be boring, but I hope you enjoy this ride with me. It is a very cathartic experience, and although I may be preaching to no crowd at the moment, but maybe someone is appreciating this as much as I am.